Will is 17 and a regular teenager, except for the fact that she lost her parents a year ago. She lives with her aunt, Elsie, and helps her run the family business, a quaint antique store. She’s very creative and loves to make lamps with bits and pieces she finds in the store. In fact, it helps keep the dark at bay after the tragedy. At the beginning of the book, it’s almost the end of the summer, and Will is getting ready to go back to school when she learns that a group of youth are organizing an art carnival in town. She would love to be a part of it along with her friends Autumn and Noel. But hurricane Whitney is on its way, and the blackout it generates threatens to swallow Will whole.
This wonderful coming-of-age graphic novel shows the healing power art can have over grief. It also deals with important themes like fears, friendships and love. In addition, Laura Lee Gulledge’s drawings are beautiful, and the dark background outside the panels during the blackout is a nice touch. I especially loved the Will & Whit folk rock soundtrack at the end of the book, as well as the Blue Crush Cookies recipe. The only (minor) flaw in this graphic novel is that Noel and Desmond are sometimes hard to tell apart because they look very much alike. Otherwise, it’s a great read, and I would highly recommend it. No wonder that Will & Whit was named one of the Best Teen Graphic Novels of 2013 by the Kirkus Review!
Fun facts about the book and the author:
- Hurricane Isabel (2003) was the inspiration for Whitney.
- Laura Lee Gulledge loves to create art installations, as does Will in the book.
- The author developed a Will & Whit musical, a DIY show for young students to perform in schools.
- Laura Lee Gulledge’s great-grandmother, Wilhelmina Maerker Lansford, was the inspiration for Will. Another great-grandmother, Elsie Huckstep Bowling Green, was the inspiration for Elsie.
About the author and her work: Who is Laura Lee
To read a review of Laura Lee Gulledge’s first book: Page by Paige
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